Note: This feature is in the June TT&C 2012 issue.
Cover of the June TT&C 2012 issue.
Beautiful examples of 1950s and ’60s tin toy trucks.
Texaco theme display.
Nice Marx trucks.
Ice cream and dairy truck collection.
Heading up to Massachusetts to interview Bill Semple, I started thinking about all the fascinating collectors with astonishing collections that I have covered for TT&C in this state. From Fred Heim’s 1/2 scale trucks to Alan Banes’ huge cement truck collection, Massachusetts has some unique collectors.
I was familiar with one of Bill’s trucks before I had met him. His apple-green and white B Model Mack trailer truck was a common sight at truck shows. Of course, like all of us, Bill’s interest in trucks started at a young age.
He was 5 years old when his grandmother would take him on shopping trips that would usually end up with a toy car or truck. His toy trucks started a connection to cars and trucks that still continues now with no end in sight.
Vehicles have always been part of Bill’s livelihood. He has worked for National Car Rental, Lily Truck Leasing and Minuteman Ford. He owned Semple Truck Lease in Boston, which he started with five used White trucks. He also owned 495 Truck Center in Marlboro, Mass., and Power America Cleaning Systems in Littleton. Bill sold his Power America business after building it up for 10 years.
In the meantime, Bill’s collection was expanding. He bought a new house three years ago that came with a two-story barn in the backyard called Pop’s Garage. This was a perfect place to hold his real trucks on the bottom and display his toy trucks upstairs. His antique truck collection includes some vintage truck brands that I had never heard of.
Another fact that intrigued me was that some of these trucks were manufactured in his home state of Massachusetts. Other than his B Model Macks, he also owns a 1915 and a 1923 White 3/4-ton truck. He has a 1938 Ford fire truck that was owned by Henry Ford when he owned the Wayside Inn of Sudbury, Mass.
Two trucks I had never seen was a 1919 Northway built in Natick, Mass., and a 1925 Wachusett built in Fitchburg, Mass.
Bill is also a serious license plate collector. His collection of plates includes ones dating back as far as 1904. Many of them are New England states, but his collection spans many states.
It took me back a bit to think about the fact that these plates have been around since the infancy of motorized vehicles. Most of the early plates were finished in baked porcelain.
As with most truck collectors, he also has other nice transportation-related items, including a White Trucks porcelain dealer sign and an old St. Johnsbury trucking sign.
Bill was the president of the National ATHS (Antique Truck Historical Society), from 1985 to 1987. He founded the New England chapter that at one point boasted 800 members. This chapter has since been dissolved, and he has become involved with the Antique Truck Club of America, (ATCA) starting a New England chapter.
The second floor of Bill’s barn is the toy room. It is also where he hosts meetings with friends and club members on a regular basis.
Want to read rest of story? It's available in the June TT&C 2012 magazine!
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